For every business owner, lawyers play a huge role in helping them to grow. As a current student, have you wondered what a corporate attorney’s day is like in life or how to become a lawyer? In order to help our small business and business students to have knowledge of the law, we are fortunate to have met and work with a corporate attorney, Ross Pitcoff. He is the Principal of Ross Pitcoff Law and recently started his business in digital marketing for attorney and law firms called, “Res Ipsa Marketeur”. Ross helped our audience get answers to a few common questions such as “What’s necessary for being a successful lawyer?”, “What’s the key to success for entrepreneurs and small business owners to understand the law?”, “What’s life in law school like?” and more. Ross always shared his secret on how to maintain a “No lose” record in his career as an attorney. If you are someone who is considering hiring a corporate attorney or considering practicing business, do not miss out on this episode!
Angela: On episode 6, we have our own company’s attorney, Ross Pitcoff. Hi, Ross, how are you?
Ross: Doing well, thank you.
Angela: So Ross practises everything from business, security, even fashion and design law. He has extensive knowledge in a lot of fields, and I truly believe he would provide some great inspiration to aspiring lawyers, and anyone in the corporate field. I wanted to start by asking how did you decide to be a lawyer? Do you just have a light-bulb moment, or have you thought thoroughly? What experience guided you into that career choice?
Ross: I have always been interested in things like history and the Constitution in the United States. In fact, funny enough. When I was in high school, the only course I did well in is American History and World History. And I think the part of the reason for that was partly the studying of law. From a very young age, I just sort of have this interest of how we are governed as people, and this leads to studying Philosophy in college and learning about institutions for structure of ancient Greek and structure of ancient romans. At some points in college, I decided to sit for LSAT, which is an exam you need to get into Law School. And I ended up in Fordham Law School in New York City.
Angela: How was your experience in college, and in Law school?
Ross: My experience in college? College and Law school are a little different. (Myself in) College started off with a little bit of partying, got to admit. (Laughers from Angela). But I end up becoming a very focused student, focused on history related question and philosophy, political philosophy as well. Law school was a very serious part of life. Of course, they required a lot of reading, a lot of writing. You will have a lot of competitive students who will hide legal books, so the other students will have a hard time getting them for preparation of exams. But overall experience is good.
Angela: What would you say it’s your area of expertise?
Ross: Sure, so I initially started as a litigator, I would go to court, handling people’s cases. I will argue in front of judges and ultimately if we end up in a trial. (“Do a lot of lawyers start like this?” – asked by Angela) It depends, I will say there are two separate categories: some are litigators, meaning they do focus on going to court and representing clients, dispute resolution. Others will start as corporate attorneys, now they are doing paper works and the transactional work. Well, litigators tend to say they make the best transactional attorney, because they are always in the court finding all the issues that happened in the corporate documents, which the corporate attorneys maybe and may not get quite correct. But that’s sort of a joke in litigators. (Laughing from Angela). For me and my firm, (we) do commercial litigation, which means we deal with a lot of business related disputes, security fraud related dispute, issues arises from the contract and agreement. And we now also do corporate work as well. We help companies to get capital raise, set up their business, and deal with company’s agreement and what a company really needs to function from day to day.
Angela: And that’s why you are our company lawyers, right? Could you describe your experience working with us?
Ross: Sure, working with Celeri Network has been great! I think Justin is a fantastic leader. He has done a great job for the company itself. He has done a fantastic job getting the business set up. I know when I first came to the office it was really small, and I have seen it grow and grow, really over the course of the few months. He has done an excellent job to deal with flow and get many customers to sign up to acquire other student loans or business loans. I really can’t say anything but he has done a fantastic job!
Angela: Speaking of student and business loans, have you ever taken any one of those?
Ross: I took out student loans back in law school. (“I am sure it’s gonna be a lot” – said by Angela). It was significant! I would talk about six figure loans. (“But it has been paid off?” – said by Angela) Yeah, it has been paid off. I really came out right after the crash of 2008, I started law school right after 2008. Because of that, all we can get it’s the Federal staffing loan, which has a fixed interest rate of 8.5%. Me and my colleagues do have a lot of funds to pay it back for those Federal Loans, but nonetheless we are paying it back and in all various ways.
Angela: Let’s say someone wants to start a small business and I think a lot of people are afraid of taking that risk. What is the best advice you can give them, especially since you’re in the investment banking business or have been in it for such a long time.
Angela: So you recently started a digital marketing agency. (“Sure, it’s ‘Res Ipsa Marketeur’”-said by Ross) It’s a digital marketing agency for attorneys. Could you talk more about that? It seemed quite interesting.
Ross: So “Res Ipsa Marketeur” is from the term “res ipsa loquitur”, which many law students should be familiar with. It means the thing speaks for itself. It arose from common law and one of the justices in New York, I believe, who was trying to figure a way to suggest there is liability in a case where nobody actually sees it happened, the things speak for itself. So “Res Ipsa Marteur” is sort of planning those words. It is a digital marketing agency for attorneys. We help attorneys to generate business by running Google Ads, Facebook and Instagram retargeting, LinkedIn Ad on their behaves to get new business.
Angela: Going back to your career to be a lawyer, what skills do you think a lawyer should possess? I know you would definitely say arguing, but what’s more?
Ross: You know what? Arguing is actually not what I suggested. I think there are many different types of attorneys out there in terms of personality and skills. And it really does come down to your skill sets. It’s hard for young law students and young attorneys sometimes to know what those are. You, sometime for example, have a good research analyst, who does a fantastic job researching law and providing law to the legal writer. Often they can be the same person. Sometime if you find out you are a good writer, you might find yourself writing motions, making arguments to the court, and present yourself in front of judges, hopefully be able to win.
Angela: Does it take a long time to figure out all of these?
Ross: I guess it takes some time. Like some attorneys are good orator, show is someone you want before judges to take the arguments, the legal arguments on the paper, and explain to them in a very simple way to the court. Because the court doesn’t have time to check every single paper that has been submitted. Some attorneys are usually good communicators, and they are the one that speak to new businesses – speaking with prospective clients and take a complex case and break it down simply for them. Such as “this is what happening”, and this is the solution for that. So I know you will definitely ask a follow-up on that, I am not sure whether I have answered it but I will be happy to.
Angela: Well, I would love to know what good advice will you give to future lawyers? I know you have given some good advice, but what do you think that is?
Ross:I will say to figure out what it is you are passionate about in life, besides arguing, though that’s probably one thing soon-to-be attorney might be interested in. Focusing on something that you enjoy and trying to get yourself into that field of law. If you are into fashion and design law, speaking to a fashion attorney or an intellectual attorney. (“get some insight, right?” – Angela) Absolutely, if you are a business major, or really into the financial world and trading, you should go to a security law firm. If you are a student or younger, I would actually call those law firms or send them an email. (“Would they actually respond?” – Angela) I think many would, like I would. We are pretty busy, that’s true. But I found out, there are certain people, till this day, I still remember or communicate with cause when I was really young, I reached out to them.
Angela: If someone reached out to you,you would respond. (“Yes, I would take time to, but it may take some time depending whether I am busy.” – Ross). I would you suggest small business owners be aware regarding business law?
Ross: I think first and foremost. It depends on the type of business you are involved in. Number one is you should make sure you have all the licenses in the field of your practise. Let’s for example, if you are in the financial services, you should be registered under as a broker or dealer. If you are involved with real estate, you should register as a mortgage broker. But sort of on a more general level, every small business should make sure they are in corporate, no matter if it is a limited liability company. Of course, once you do that, you will get an EIN, which it’s a tax ID number. The business is separated from the individual and you also have an unlimited liability. For example, if you ever suit in court, in the case of nature, you won’t be held personally liable for the debts of the company. I realized a lot of small businesses have problems doing this. Many businesses have problems avoiding doing this, and they end up getting into trouble and their personal assets are actually at risk. So if they have a home in their names and they could have a potential lean on their property, their bank account will actually have a problem to go against them and it’s highly problematic. First and foremost to get your company set up, number two is if you are planning to raise capital, you have to be mindful of security. You should talk to somebody that can guide you to the front and create documents for you. And if you want to become a motor shop, you will need to have a commercial lease, so typically you want those to be negotiated properly with the landlord and you won’t get stuck and end up on the hook. 12 and 15 years later, when your business doesn’t end up earning the income you anticipated, moreover beyond that, when it comes to hiring employees, you should have the documents and independent contractor available, which means when you hire a contractor and not an employee, they could have various contacts in hand. A manual is good. (“everything should be on paper” – Said by Angela) And if you have those, in case your business goes down on the road, you will have something to protect yourself. And it is also important to have a non disclosure agreement available.
Angela: Now I want to go into something fun, we wanted to know a fun fact about you. Is there anything that you would like to share?
Ross: Sure, I played guitar.And I used to play often and do singer/songwriter stuff. I have played in the village and restaurants for a couple places. I don’t play nearly as I used to do in college. I started on piano at 6 or 7, and shifted to guitar to 12 and 13. It’s been a long time and I have the musical notes in my head.
Angela: What would you do if you lose a case, how do you deal with it and what advice would you share?
Ross: Fortunately to say that, I have never lost a case. (“Wow, you have never lost a case?”) Yes, but I would say as an attorney, you have to go through some ups and downs. You have to feel your position in the case, how strong it’s your case and go on and create a plan for resolution. So I would say for an attorney, or a young law student that is doing mock trials., to always evaluate after every single case you have handled and see what you can improve. It’s all about mindset, if you are the type of person who made a mistake and seemed to blame other people, such as my client didn’t provide this information or the judge is unfair. You won’t get better, but if you start reflecting on yourself, “what could I have done?” Maybe I could ask my clients more about certain things.
Angela: Well, thank you so much and it is a pleasure of having you!
Ross: Thank you very much!